In the same week that the world was mourning the loss of fashion designer Kate Spade, who committed suicide at her home in New York, we received a double blow on Friday when we heard the shocking news of Chef Anthony Bourdain’s suicide at a hotel in France, where he was on location shooting an episode of his CNN food-and-travel series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
We loved Bourdain for his 2000 book Kitchen Confidential, a no-holds-barred look behind the scenes of the restaurant industry. We loved him for taking us on exciting culinary tours around the world through his TV series A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover and Parts Unknown. We loved that he pushed the boundaries of his palate, eating roasted sheep testicles in Morocco and raw seal with the Inuit and even downing balut (fetal duck egg) live on air. We loved him for his often brutal honesty and sarcastic sense of humour.
“He taught us about food – but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown.” – President Barack Obama on Twitter
The news hit us especially hard here in Hong Kong. Bourdain had – just days earlier – been here shooting an episode for Parts Unknown, which he had described as a highlight of his career – a “cinematic dream” – because this particular episode was directed by his girlfriend, Italian actress Asia Argento, and shot by his cinematographer idol, Christopher Doyle, famous for filming such iconic Hong Kong movies as Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love.
The tributes from culinary personalities around the world have been pouring in, but local chef May Chow, who had the honour of recently hosting Bourdain at her neo-Cantonese eatery Happy Paradise, summed it up better than anyone on Instagram: “You beat the harsh hours of being a chef. You beat the heroin. You beat the cocaine. You made a life of yourself inspiring millions, living a dream life with truth that not many know how to live. However, despite all your strength and honesty, depression slowly trickled in and won. Depression can be invisible, but it can be the most powerful and deadly, where reality and circumstance have no matter. It clearly exists in people who lead successful and beautiful lives. For people who are able to overcome so many obstacles in life yet still lose to depression. It really shows how powerful depression can be. Love him and celebrate him.”
Foodie sends our deepest condolences to Anthony Bourdain’s family, friends and colleagues.